You've probably heard of Banff, Canada. But do you know about the other park that flanks its northwestern border? Jasper National Park is known as much for its beauty as it is for how you get there: by way of the Icefields Parkway, a world-class journey that you'll never forget. And the hikes along the way are simply unparalleled. You'll experience some of them if you come along for the ride with Backroads, or you can tap into the park's majesty on your own with a few of our favorite Jasper hikes--we're sharing our top five!
1. Valley of the Five Lakes
Round-Trip Distance: 5.5 Miles (a long loop)-- shorter options available too! Area: Jasper, Jasper National Park
Not far from the town of Jasper, this is undoubtedly one of the most stunning hikes along the park's valley floor (read: very little elevation gain!). What better way to start your Jasper journey and acclimate your body for adventures that take you deeper into the mountains? As the name implies, you 'll hike past five lakes, notable for their varied and stunning color palettes. Depending on your energy level, you can choose to hike a short loop trail and get a taste of the area or take in all five lakes on a longer loop. Either way, you'll be done in time to treat yourself to something delicious at one of our favorite spots in Jasper -- Bear's Paw Bakery -- known around the world for its carrot cake! You'll have earned it, so treat yourself, eh?
2. Edith Cavell Meadows
Round-Trip Distance: 5.3 Miles Area: Jasper National Park
Mount Edith Cavell, named after a British nurse celebrated for saving lives of soldiers on both sides without discrimination during the First World War, is as notable as its namesake. The mountain itself is absolutely spectacular and a hike in her environs provides unforgettable views of Angel Glacier, Cavell Glacier and Cavell Meadows. This is certainly one of the finest hikes to be found in Jasper National Park! The best time to visit is in late spring or early summer--you'll be amazed by the alpine wildflowers lining your trail.
3. Maligne Canyon
Round-Trip Distance: 4.6 Miles Area: Jasper National Park
Considered by many to be the most interesting canyon in the Canadian Rockies, hiking up and down the Maligne River (starting at the 6th bridge) will have you wanting your camera at the ready the entire time. Named by Father Pierre-Jean De Smet to describe the turbulent waters that flow from the lake above to its treacherous confluence with the Athabasca River below, Maligne is a French word meaning 'malignant' or 'wicked.' But the only wicked thing you'll be sure to experience on your journey here are the views, and an overwhelming sense of awe. Add to that the fact that you're close enough to sneak in an evening visit to the Miette Hot Springs to soak your hiking muscles and you can't go wrong!
4. Snake Indian Falls (2 days)
Distance: 19 Miles (one-way) Area: Jasper National Park
If you have a couple of days and want to push yourself a bit more, the hike to Snake Indian Falls is likely to be the highlight of your entire trip. The thundering falls are well worth the trek, but be sure to start early, cycle the route or plan for an overnight at the falls; otherwise, unless you're an ultra-runner, you're unlikely to make this journey in a day. Your work and planning will pay off though. Trust us!
5. Skyline Trail (2-4 days)
Distance: 27 Miles (one-way, requires a vehicle shuttle from one end) Area: Jasper National Park
The Skyline Trail is a bucket list item for many, and widely acknowledged to be one of the premiere backpacking trips in the Canadian Rockies. The vast majority of the hike will have you either at or above Jasper's tree line, leading to days of awe-inspiring, sweeping alpine views. There are a few entry points to the hike, but if you want to save yourself the most elevation, begin at the end of Maligne Road, 30 miles from Jasper Townsite. Pack light to make the most of your days, but whatever you do, don't forget to bring your camera!
Want to Experience the Best of Jasper with Backroads? Pick one of these Jasper Active Adventures and let's go!